One of the underlying causes of hypoglycemia is a fatty liver and depleted glycogen stores. Glycogen is the stored form of sugar in the liver and muscles.
The liver is responsible for maintaining blood sugar levels between meals by converting glycogen back into glucose. The glucose is then released back into the bloodstream to sustain blood sugar levels and prevent hypoglycemia.
When a liver becomes fatty, glycogen stores become depleted, causing someone to be more prone to hypoglycemia in between meals.
Hypoglycemia is one of the first signs and symptoms of blood sugar dysregulation. It is crucial to pay attention to the warning signs of hypoglycemia.
A fatty liver is one of the underlying causes of hypoglycemia therefore, reversing a fatty liver can help prevent the worsening of hypoglycemia.
Fatty liver and hypoglycemia that goes unchecked can progress into insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, metabolic syndrome, and eventually full-blown type 2 diabetes. Pay attention to the body’s first symptoms of blood sugar dysregulation and hypoglycemia.
The progression of type 2 diabetes can look something like this:
But it all starts with a fatty liver, which underlies all of these problems.
Symptoms of hypoglycemia can vary among individuals from mild to severe. Hunger between meals is a mild symptom of hypoglycemia, while the loss of consciousness is severe.
Do not disregard any symptoms of low blood sugar as these are your body’s initial warning signs. Please don’t wait for the severe symptoms of hypoglycemia before taking action or talking to your healthcare professional.
Signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia
- feeling shaky
- being nervous or anxious
- sweating or warmth
- chills and clamminess
- impatience and irritability
- fast heartbeat
- feeling light-headed or dizzy
- visual changes
- loss of consciousness
Fatty liver and hypoglycemia
The liver stores fuel in two forms:
glycogen and triglycerides.
A healthy liver has an ample supply of each type of fuel with room to take on more of each.
Triglycerides store a lot of energy and do not take up much room. The liver can make triglycerides (fat) out of any fuel source such as fats, carbs, and alcohol.
Glycogen, on the other hand, can only be made out of carbohydrates and contains much less energy. But glycogen has an advantage over triglycerides as glycogen is more readily available.
According to Dr. Alan Christianson, in the Metabolism Reset Diet, he states, “it is easier to burn triglycerides for fuel when you have some glycogen to get the fire started. Think about triglycerides as coals and glycogen as lighter fluid.” You need an ample supply of lighter fluid to get the coals burning.
Things start to go wrong when the liver becomes fatty and overloaded with too many triglycerides. As a result, there is not enough room for glycogen to be stored.
When glycogen stores become depleted due to a fatty liver, it is much more difficult for the liver to maintain normal blood sugar levels between meals. A person can become hypoglycemic more easily when glycogen stores become depleted.
Too much fuel coming in, whether from carbs, fats, protein, or alcohol, can lead to fatty liver. Someone with SNPs in the PEMT gene can be prone to developing a fatty liver as well.
Symptoms of hypoglycemia are the first warning signs of blood sugar dysregulation. It is essential to reverse fatty liver and restore glycogen stores to prevent blood sugar dysregulation from progressing towards insulin resistance.
When there are enough glycogen stores available, it is much easier for the liver to maintain normal blood sugar levels and prevent hypoglycemic symptoms in between meals.
There should be enough glycogen stores available to maintain blood sugar for normal daily activities for at least 12-24 hours. Eating a plant-based whole food diet with foods high in choline is one of the best ways to reverse fatty liver, thus making more room for glycogen to be stored.
A fatty liver is one of the underlying causes of hypoglycemia, but there are other causes for low blood sugar as well.
Additional causes of hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia can also be caused by exaggerated insulin activity or an over-dose of oral insulin, which drives blood sugar too low.
On the flip side, hypoglycemia can be caused by the reduction of glycogenolysis. Glycogenolysis is the making of new sugar from stored glycogen that is then released into the bloodstream to maintain blood sugar).
Glucagon is the hormone that signals the liver to make sugar from glycogen stores in the liver.
Malnutrition and hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia can occur when the production of making new sugar fails due to severe malnutrition, such as in anorexia nervosa patients with decreased glycogen stores.
Malnutrition in the elderly can also lead to the failure of making new sugar when glycogen stores are insufficient or depleted.
Hypoglycemia can also be related to liver disease when there is rapid liver cell destruction due to viral hepatitis. Hypoglycemia in acute liver failure is due to impaired gluconeogenesis and depleted glycogen stores.
Low blood sugar can also occur in individuals who drink alcohol, have poor nutrition, and depleted glycogen stores.
Malnutrition that causes loss of body fat and muscle can also cause hypoglycemia due to limited fuel sources available to be converted back into sugar to maintain blood sugar levels.
It is essential to have healthy liver function and nutrition to prevent symptoms of hypoglycemia. The body requires nutrients such as B vitamins for the enzymatic conversions involved in using sugar, fat, and protein for making energy and maintaining optimal blood sugar balance.
How to prevent fatty liver and hypoglycemia
Taking a multivitamin can help to prevent micronutrient deficiencies and ensure that the liver has the nutrients it needs to function.
Optimal PC contains phosphatidylcholine, which is crucial for transporting fats out of the liver, thus preventing fatty liver. Reversing and preventing fatty liver is essential to ensure there is room for glycogen to be stored.
The more glycogen stores that are available, the easier it is for the liver to maintain blood sugar in between meals and during fasting.
Learn ways in which you can reverse fatty liver in the posts below.